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Wyoming's Solar Future Needs Your Help

Wyoming Rooftop Solar Net Metering Update, October 29, 2020

The drafted bill 21LSO-02190 is out and, as we feared, its attacking rooftop solar and net metering in Wyoming. BUT, it's not too late to contact the Committee members (and legislators who aren't on the Committee but represent your district can influence the bill's direction) to share why you support net metering and solar!

Summary of Proposed Changes to Wyoming Solar Net Metering in the Draft Bill

The Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee will be discussing net metering on Wednesday, November 11th. The proposed bill can be viewed here. If enacted, it would change the following:

-It would cancel the net metering structure that has been in place in WY since 2001. In its place, it would offer residential and commercial solar generators a reduced compensation for any energy they put back on the grid for use later. In our experience, most residential rooftop solar customers export 50% to 60% of their energy back to the grid during the sunny hours of the day. This portion of their production would no longer receive full retail value but instead, a value based on the utility’s “avoided cost”; generally about 20% of the retail value. Though each case will be different, expect this change to reduce the annual financial return of a solar power system by 45%. An investment in rooftop solar that is now expected to pay for itself in 10 years would, under this bill, take 18 years.

-Under the existing net-metering law, utilities are required to allow rooftop solar installations up to 25kw. These proposed changes make it optional for utilities to accept solar customers. If a utility or rural electric co-op prefers not to have its customers produce their own energy, they may decline to permit it.

-It legacies in existing systems for the next ten years but only if the home or business stays under the same ownership. If you sell your home, your solar will lose some of its value.

-Existing systems legacied in under the current rules would be subject to the utility or co-op’s choice of what date during the year would be used to “true-up” on any annual net excess generation. This is currently set for December 31st. A utility could choose a date in August and force customers with excess credits at the end of summer to sell them back at the wholesale avoided cost rate.

-Systems with a capacity of greater than 25kW will now be permitted but only at the option of the utility or co-op and under terms and conditions defined by the utility or co-op. If those terms and conditions are unfavorable to the customer, there is no recourse.

Original Blog Post from October 12, 2020

A year after massive public input helped save Wyoming’s net metering, lawmakers could once again be endangering our state's solar future.

The Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee will be discussing net metering on Wednesday, November 11th. We anticipate the introduction of a last-minute bill aiming to weaken the state law that guarantees residents full credit for renewable energy that is fed back to the grid. This would be devastating to homeowners, small businesses, and the growing solar industry in Wyoming.

Rooftop solar for homes and businesses is a proven and cost-effective strategy to create a cleaner electric power supply for everyone. This bill, if enacted, would put the brakes on this growing field, just when Wyoming most needs the jobs and the economic investment it offers.

We encourage you to contact the Committee members (below) and your legislators (even if they are not members of the Committee) to share why you value solar energy, why you want to keep net metering, and what you want for Wyoming's future. Your personal story makes a difference. It's also important for lawmakers to hear from people who do not have solar but see its value to all utility customers, our state, and the environment - so spread the word to friends.

As always, your comments should be respectful and specific. Consider speaking about your values.

“Our country and our state are not acting quickly enough to address climate change. Rooftop solar is one of the few powerful tools available to individuals to do their part in this crisis. This bill takes threatens to take that away.” - Scott Kane, Creative Energies Co-owner

With 20 years of renewable energy installations in Wyoming, Creative Energies is invested in our state. We employ 15 Wyomingites and recently expanded our services in Southeast Wyoming by opening an office in Laramie. We want our business's success to continue benefiting our state. We're working closely with advocacy partners to educate policymakers and ensure the best energy options for you.

What is Net Metering and How Does It Benefit Wyomingites?

Net metering allows owners of a solar energy system to exchange extra energy supplied to the grid for credit to cover the cost of future electricity needs from the utility provider.

Net metering allows utility customers to generate their own electricity cleanly and efficiently. For example, during the day when solar homeowners produce more electricity than they consume; net metering allows them to export that power to the grid and reduce their future electric bills.

Net metering provides incentives for economic growth and job creation. The Wyoming rooftop solar industry is a growing sector that's helping diversify our state's economy.

Net metering helps protect the electric grid by encouraging generation near the point of consumption. It reduces the strain on distribution systems and prevents losses in long-distance electricity transmission and distribution.

Currently, Wyoming law only allows small systems, 25 kilowatts or less, to be eligible for net metering credit. The legislation under consideration is likely to legacy in existing net-metered solar, but the terms could negatively affect expected financial returns for homeowners and small businesses.

Why Solar is Important to Wyoming's Future?

Solar is one of the fastest-growing industries and job markets in the United States. The budding solar industry in Wyoming could be an economic engine.

Solar can diversify Wyoming's economy. The coal industry is on the decline, while the solar industry continues to grow.

Solar can help Wyomingites make a living.

"Wyoming has room to grow the rooftop solar industry without harming other ratepayers. Wyoming ranks 43rd in the country for solar jobs per capita, yet has the 8th best solar resource in the nation. The Department of Energy, Association of Utility Commissioners, and others find that net metering does not affect other ratepayers until a 5–10% market impact. Wyoming is only at 0.04%!" - Wyoming Outdoor Council, 2019

Solar provides cost benefits to other utility ratepayers in avoided energy needs, avoided distribution losses, and avoided costs for transmission.

Rooftop solar creates grid resilience and flexibility.

Solar offers consumers choices. Energy competition in Wyoming is good for the economy.

Wyomingites should have reasonable and affordable access to independent clean energy.

What's in the interest of utility companies isn't always in the best interest of Wyoming residents.

Air pollution and climate change threaten Wyoming, all while Wyomingites bear the burden of these costs, not the utility companies.

Solar is a renewable energy source in Wyoming. Wyoming will never run out of solar energy.

Solar is one of the best tools available to us to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the production of greenhouse gases for energy generation.

More Resources

Net Metering for Rooftop Solar Facts from Powder River Basin Resource Council

Net Metering Factsheet from Wyoming Outdoor Council

Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee Members

Senate Corporations Chairman Bill Landen - bill.landen@wyoleg.gov
House Corporations Chairman Tyler Lindholm - tyler.lindholm@wyoleg.gov
Senator Cale Case - cale.case@wyoleg.gov
Senator Tara Nethercott - tara.nethercott@wyoleg.gov
Senator Wendy Schuler - wendy.schuler@wyoleg.gov
Senator Charlie Scott - charles.scott@wyoleg.gov
Representative Jim Blackburn - jim.blackburn@wyoleg.gov
Representative Aaron Clausen - aaron.clausen@wyoleg.gov
Representative Scott Clem - scott.clem@wyoleg.gov
Representative Andi Clifford - andrea.clifford@wyoleg.gov
Representative Shelly Duncan - shelly.duncan@wyoleg.gov
Representative Roy Edwards - roy.edwards@wyoleg.gov
Representative Danny Eyre - danny.eyre@wyoleg.gov
Representative Dan Furphy - dan.furphy@wyoleg.gov

Find your legislator.

Sign up to give public testimony during Legislature's Joint Committee Meeting

Form Submission Deadline is Friday, November 6 at 5:00 PM

Questions about solar in Wyoming? Our team can help. Contact us at 307.332.3410 or info@cesolar.com.

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